Since May 2, this year, strained relations already existed between Pakistan and the United States when without informing Islamabad, US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in a covert military operation. Afterwards, tension started increasing in Pak-US relations as America continued its pressure tactics on Pakistan in wake of drone attacks on Pak tribal areas, while setting aside parliament’s resolution in this regard.
Taking congnisance of the situation, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership rejected American coercive diplomacy and sent home 120 US military trainers. Besides Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies arrested suspected foreigners from various cities, and have been keeping the movements of American diplomats and nationals under strict observation. On the other side, US cut some of the $2.7 billion in military aid to Pakistan.
In order to decrease tension, on September 16, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met in the sidelines of NATO conference in Spain. Both the military leaders stressed the need to enhanced military relations between Islamabad and Washington, while expressing their satisfaction to maintain conducive ties between the two countries. However, it was the first meeting of the two military leaders since the Osama episode.
A rift widened between the Pak-US relations when after meeting Gen. Kayani, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that in the discussion, he had pressed Pakistan to break its links with the Haqqani network (based in North Waziristan) which is waging a ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan with the assistance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He also accused that the Haqqani network’s “acts as a veritable arm” of ISI, blaming for a recent assault on the US embassy and coalition headquarters in Kabul.
Besides, on September 14, 2011, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had warned that the US would retaliate against militants based in Pakistan, accusing of attack in the Afghan capital. He alleged, “I am very concerned about the Haqqani attacks because…they are killing our forces…they escape back into what is a safe havens in Pakistan.”
On the other side, on September 23, Gen. Kayani, while rejecting the statement of US Admiral Mike Mullen, stated that these allegations were baseless, He explained that Mullen’s statement after positive talk in Spain was deplorable, adding that, Mullen knows very well that how many countries have links with Haqqani network. Gen. Kayani also categorically ruled out the allegations of White House and Pentagon leveled against Pakistan and ISI, supporting Haqqani network.
However, following Mullen’s tough language, the US high officials issued stern warning about Islamabad’s failure to crack down on the Haqqani network, and raised the possibility of unilateral US action against Pakistan.
Taking note of the US hot pursuit policy, a Special Corps Commanders Conference, chaired by the Gen. Kayani held on September 25, which rejected all the allegations against ISI and Haqqani network. Nevertheless, given the unprecedented belligerent tone of the American statements, the defence forces seem to be preparing for the worst case scenario—attacks by the US forces against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. On same day, General Khalid Shameem Wyne, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee conveyed his reaction to the visiting US General James Mattis, commander of the US Central Command. Meanwhile, next day, Gen. Kayani canceled his visit to UK.
Gravity of situation could be judged from the fact that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called the All Parties Conference (APC) on September 29 to discuss the situation arising out of US accusations and threats to Pakistan so as to evolve a consensus strategy.
Meanwhile, White House adviser David Plouffe remarked that the Obama administration is considering various options to persuade Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network, which could include suspension of aid, or which could be made conditional on cooperation against the network—including the latest package of $ 1 billion.
On September 26, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who is in New York, while rejecting US accusations about ISI said that it has no links to the Haqqani network. She explained, “If we talk about links, I am sure the CIA has links with many terrorist organisations around the world…and links with this particular network, which the United States continues to talk about…was the blue-eyed boy of the CIA itself for many years.” On September 24, Ms. Khar also warned that any such move to send US ground troops to Pakistan would breach “red lines” and that the US was in fact making Pakistan a scapegoat.”
It is of particular attention that on September 17, in a rare interview by telephone from an undisclosed location, Leader of the Haqqani militant network, Sirajuddin Haqqani had revealed that the group has become so confident after battlefield gains in Afghanistan that “it no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan, and instead, felt secure inside Afghanistan.”
Nevertheless, tension has been escalating between Islamabad and Washington. And America has intensified its blame game of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan by the Haqqani group and ISI, While, in the recent past, aerial and ground shelling by the US-supported NATO forces inside Pakistan’s border, and the US-backed intermittent attacks by the armed militants who crossed inside Pakistan from Afghanistan, have continued.
In fact, by making the Haqqani network its scapegoat America seeks to fulfill its multiple aims against Pakistan. In this respect, under the pretext of Haqqani group, and unrest in the country, which has collevtively been created by CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad, US India and Israel have been weakening Pakistan to ‘denculearise’ the latter.
In this context, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed on June 7 that there was “accurate information…Americans are to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear facilities to find dominance over the country.” While also indicating Zionist regime behind the conspiracy, he elaborated that for this purpose, the US can also use “the United Nations Security Council as tool to exercise pressure on Pakistan and weaken integrity.”
US wants to attribute its defeat in Afghanistan with Pakistan In this regard, US could directly attack North Wziristan through barrage of aerial strikes even including groung attacks. Notably, US seeks to shift Afghan war to Pakistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. In this respect, the hidden aims behind are to produce more terrorism in Pakistan. With the help of RAW and Mossad, Obama Administration has been implementing its agenda of “covert war” in Pakistan through various acts of sabotage. Thus after creating lawlessness in Pakistan, US seeks to show to its western allies that countrie’s nuclear weapons are not safe and could be snached by the Taliban insurgents. Then, Washington is likely to ask Islamabad to rollback its nuclear programe and to hand over its all nuclear assets to the US. Under the guise of Haqqani network, and with the help of Indo-Israeli lobbies, US also accelerated propaganda to further distort the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations. America could also impose unilateral sanctions on Islamabad or could convince its western allies to participate in the scheme.
It is noteworthy that American cost of war against terrorism which has reached approximately 7 trillion dollars is increasing rapidly in wake of debt crisis and acute recession inside the country, while American public was particularly worried about the failed campaign in Afghanistan. So blaming Pakistan and Haqqani network for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan could also be used to distract the attention of Americans from internal crises, and could also be used for re-election of Obama as president.
Here question also arises as to why American drone attacks were targeting the South Waziristan in the past few years, except some rare strikes in North Wazirstan which should have been their real target.
Taking note of the US designs regarding military operation in North Waziristan, on June 9, Gen. Kayani had already remarked, “a well thought out campaign is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time…future operations, as and when undertaken, will be with political consensus…the people of Pakistan whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.”
Nonetheless, America has always emphasised its old policy to ‘do more’ against the militants, but now, knowing its real intentions, and by taking united stand, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has refused to act upon American unnecessary demands. Therefore tension has increased in Pak-US relations.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations